Shire are back in Lowland League action after a week long break when the team takes on Stirling University at The Falkirk Stadium on Friday evening (kick-off 7:45pm).
It is the first outing for John Sludden’s team since the 2-0 victory against Vale of Leithen on 26th August and is a chance for Shire to extend an unbeaten Lowland League run to six games.
The head coach was heartened by the win, and the display, at Innerleithen in Shire’s last public appearance which brought a frustrating sequence of three successive draws to an end.
“I thought there were a number of real positives,” he said. “We played with a good tempo, the passing was good and we got real width to our play, which is something we asked the boys to do.”
But John knows the task facing Shire against the Airthrey students is likely to require an even further step up in standard. Friday’s opponents sit in third place in the league table having collected five more points than their visitors, although the students have played two more games.
An indication of the size of Shire’s task was underlined by Stirling University’s last result.
While the postponement of Shire’s planned Saturday engagement with Spartans left them idle, Stirling University became just one of a handful of teams over the last couple of years to stop East Kilbride winning at home with the sides sharing a 1-1 draw at K Park.
“It will be a big test for us,” said John. “They are good team as they proved with their result on Saturday. They are fit and well-organised ans they also have the advantage of training every day.
“The two games we played against them last season were both good matches and we are hoping Friday’s will be just as good,” he said.
Shire last faced the Stirling students at Falkirk Stadium back in January on another Friday evening and the team eventually emerged with a hard-fought but deserved 2-0 victory.
“We go into every game with the aim of winning it,” said John. “It doesn’t matter if we are playing the team at the top or one near the bottom. We approach both in a positive manner.”
For a second successive match Shire will wear the second choice red and black kit with Stirling University in their normal green strips. An away game so close to home is an ideal opportunity for many Shire followers who are not regulars at away games to see the team play away from Ochilview and the coaches and the players would greatly appreciate a big and vocal support for a very important match.